If You Have to Justify a Purchase, You Probably Didn’t Need It.

Do you ever find yourself buying something, telling someone about your purchase, and before they say anything, you start explaining why you needed it?

I know I have.

And 99% of the time, it was something I didn’t need.

Scenario One

ME: ”Hey Babe, I went to the store and bought some ingredients to make dinner tonight”; HIM: ”Sounds great, I can’t wait to try it!”

No explanation needed. Obviously if you need something there is no justification required. My husband wouldn’t retort with ”Why did you buy ingredients we needed for a meal we need to eat”. We need it, so that’s why bought it.

Scenario Two

ME: ”Hey Babe, I went to the store and bought some ingredients to make dinner tonight and I also bought a massive jar of Nutella, a five pound bag of apples and some nail polish…BUT before you say anything! I needed this stuff. I know I only went for the dinner ingredients but the Nutella was on sale, even though we have 6 apples in the fridge I’ll bake (something else we don’t need) with this bag and I haven’t bought new nail polish in f-o-r-e-v-e-r so really, I needed that too” HIM: ”eyeroll”.

I can’t even convince myself with scenario two as I type it out, yet I have done it a gazillion times. I go to the store with a list and convince myself that there are other items that I needed.

If you really have to justify a purchase to yourself or someone else, you probably don’t need it and your money will be better spent (or saved) somewhere else.

There is a difference between thinking about a purchase and justifying it. You need to make the distinction. Take my recent laptop purchase as an example. Initially I didn’t need a new laptop. I spent weeks convincing myself a million reasons why I did though. In the end my head won and for two years I didn’t buy one. When she finally did stop working I no longer had to justify it, rather think the decision though and decide how much  I would spend and where I would buy it from. Two years ago I would have had to justify to my husband why I needed it. After it stopped working, and needed to be replaced, no justification was needed.

I have so much honest regret about crap I’ve wasted money on in the past and 100% of the time I had to justify the purchase to myself or someone else. Though I have come a long way, the struggle between wants and needs is a real thing.

When making a purchase on a want (the new shoes, the video game, the nail polish, the gym membership…) think about how much justification it’s going to take and then decide if it is worth it.

Life is too short to not be enjoyed. I’m not suggesting you don’t enjoy your money. What I am suggesting is that you value your money and make sure it is appropriated in the best manner. If something makes you genuinely happy, that is justification enough but if three days later you’re convincing yourself you still need ”it”, return it and rid your conscious of guilt.

How To Face Your Debt For The First Time

This topic seems so silly on the surface but for people who are in debt and avoiding it, it can be a very real issue. They just don’t know how or where to start. Part of the reason the issue of debt is such a massive problem worldwide, is that it is simply easier to avoid it then deal with it. Like so many other things in life, avoiding it won’t make it go away and only compound the issue. Your mind can be very powerful and if you force yourself to forget about something, even for a temporary reprieve, you can. But as I already talked about last week, there are many reasons why ignoring your debt is a bad idea and you need to face it!

To start, prepare yourself mentally to face a challenge. You need to be in the right mind set and have time to dedicate to it. Don’t decide at 11pm on a weeknight that you’re finally going to come up with a plan. You need to make the commitment to change and get the debt paid off.

Sign up for online banking. It’s 2014, I don’t know of a single bank in the world that wouldn’t have online access but it may be something you have to register for. Before your ”debt date” make sure your online banking is established and working.

Pick a date. Set aside dedicated time for yourself (or you plus spouse) to sit down. If you have children, make sure they won’t be a distraction. You need full attention the first time you try to work through this problem. Be comfortable in general. If the day you have set aside ends up going to hell in a hand basket, reschedule but don’t give yourself too much time in between dates, urgency is key.

Gather Info. This includes locating all account numbers and contacts for each account. If you can’t access the information online, be prepared to call the loan issuer to get the relevant information. This also requires basics like having pens and paper around. When you’re getting the information make sure you find out original balance, balance owing, interest rate and minimum payment. With the first phone call just get basic information. Once a plan is in place you may be required to call them back with more precise questions but for now basics only, after all this is a baby-step process

Make the calculations. This can often be the toughest part but it needs to be done. Sit down and finally calculate what the final number is. There are a number of online calculators that can help you if you’re unsure about calculating stuff like interest rate but it’s not as difficult as you may think.

Come up with a plan. Once you know the final number you need to come up with a plan to get it paid off ASAP. This will include looking into your budget and seeing what needs to be done. You may not have to do much other than reallocate some money but more likely then not you’ll need to make changes, cut things out or make extra money and put any extra funds towards your debt.

Facing your debt for the first time can be daunting but a very necessary thing to do. Once you have a plan in place you will feel much better, trust me :)

Any other tips for someone preparing to deal with their debt for the first time?

 

Pssssst: My bloggy friend Pauline is having a pretty sweet giveaway…head on over to enter to win some serious cash and prizes!!

Why Ignoring Your Debt is a Bad Idea

For a few years we ignored our debt. Not totally ignored but made our minimum payments faithfully each month on our student debt and hoped to wake up one day and have them be gone, except it wasn’t happening that way. Each month we’d send in our bank checks and hope to wake up to a zero balance. You know those Visa commercials where the guy shakes his bill and the balance is magically zero? Yeah, tried it and doesn’t work.

I was so not interested in figuring out exactly what we had to do to get our debt paid off that I just ignored it all instead. It wasn’t until I was pregnant and realized we were now responsible for another person that I clued in that something more needs to happen and guess what? It wasn’t easy. It was ugly.

Taking charge of your finances, especially when debt is involved is hard but you need to do it. Ignoring your debt is never the answer. YOU need to control your own finances and I promise you your life will improve a million percent.

You’ll sleep better. I’m not an easily stressed person but I found myself not being able to sleep restfully at night because I was constantly thinking about money. How we were going to make it work, how we were going to get the debt paid off in a reasonable time and how we were going to afford the life we wanted for our child. We had good paying jobs but didn’t know they best way to make our money work for us. As soon as we sat down together and had an in-depth conversation about everything I slept better. Getting on the same page and coming up with a plan of attack was the first step to feeling better about the whole situation.

You will become a calmer, happier person. Because you’re not constantly thinking about money, your stress level will be decreased and less stress always makes for a happier person. Being a calmer person will lead to better overall decision-making which will have positive effects in all areas of your life.

You’ll gain confidence. Making a purchase and knowing you have the money set aside for said purchase is a great feeling. When you’re ignoring your debt and making uninformed purchases it only aggravates the situation.

If you continue to ignore your debt you’ll never reach your goals in life and what fun is that? We only have a finite amount of time on this earth so we need to make the most of it. Paying off debt is one of the first steps to reaching the goals you have set out to accomplish.

Being in debt sucks. I am a much happier person since coming up with a plan to get rid of our debt while still meeting other life goals (such as some vacations). I talk about money and no longer worry about finances. I have a pretty good idea about what our life is going to look like in five years and what we need to do to attain it. I’m not going to ever go back to ignoring debt and hoping it just gets figured out, because I know it never will.

The Great Laptop Steal!

wpid-20140713_232643.jpgThis day has been coming for quite some time. The day has finally arrived that I can write a post out on a computer of my own. Since I started blogging I have been using my husbands laptop. His work provides him with a computer and I was relying on either his current computer (ideal since it is new and actually works) or his six-year-old laptop that was on its last legs. With increase in freelance work and my husband having his own deadlines to meet professionally and for his own blog, I was using the old computer more and more….and it just wasn’t working.

I have been delaying buying my own computer for some time, I was just too cheap but when the ”P” and ”Ctrl” button on the old laptop stopped working…and it may or may not have started smoking from overheating…I did what I could for two weeks before finding a sale decent enough to drop some cash down and I am more than happy with what I was able to get.

Honestly I don’t need any bells and whistles and I would never use an Apple product to its potential. All I wanted was internet connection, something I could run Microsoft office on since there’s no way I could live without my excel and, in a perfect world, a numeric keypad since I use it quite frequently.

This past Saturday a local drugstore chain (of all places) had a good sale on a cheap, very basic computer for $350 also offering 20x in store collectors points. Not only did I end up getting a new laptop for a steal but I now have almost $200 in points to use at this store which sells everything from high-end makeup to bacon. It’s basically a small department store which I will have no problem spending money in. I’m excited to ‘shop for free’ at this store but for now I will hold onto my points until we figure out how we’re going to use them but I’m thinking we’ll likely use some at Christmas time.

My hope is that I will not only have a little more time to blog but it will be more efficiently used not wasted trying to get the buttons to work or even to turn on. I honestly don’t know what took me so long but I’m glad the day has finally come!

What was the last great sale item you scored??

Could You Live Without Your Smartphone?

As I type the title of this post out I don’t know if I should feel sad for humanity or happy that we have created such and ingenious device?

Mike and I, like billions of others, love our smartphones. They’re like our third arm. If for some reason I forget my phone at home while out, my heart quite literally skips a beat. Though I sometimes kill more time than I’d like to admit on my ”phone”, I really do appreciate just how much this silly device has given me. As a busy full-time working professional, blogger, wife and mom to one, I need as much simplicity in my life as I can get, and for me it’s my phone. There is very little I cannot accomplish on my smartphone.

Phone calls

This sounds ridiculous but on a very rare occasion I actually use my phone, as a phone. Though I may have to search through the damn thing to figure out how to work the phone part, it is actually the thing that gives me the most peace of mind. When I was in high school I was in a car accident with no phone and literally had to wait for someone to stop so I could get help and call my mom. Thank God it was on a busy street and I didn’t have to wait long, but since then I literally won’t even walk to the end of the street without bringing it with me, especially if I have my daughter with me.

Social Media and Email

I logged into Twitter via my computer the other day and my initial reaction was ‘wtf is this?” I almost exclusively use my phone for social media and email, which for a blogger is a huge part of what I do on a daily basis.

There’s an App for that!

It’s really unfathomable just how many apps are out there. I’ve personally used apps to help me lose weight, create lists, play games, collect points and pay bills. You name it and there’s likely an app that may surprisingly be very helpful to you.

Mobile Payments

Though this is a relatively new concept I am super excited for it to take off. Mobile payments essentially eliminate the need to use debit or credit for smaller purchases. I’ve recently installed my first mobile payment app on my phone and am more excited than I should be about using it. I love the idea of not needing to carry small change around for a coffee or bite to eat if you’re out and about and forgot your wallet (and yes, forgetting my wallet and ID happens more than I’d like).

I love my smartphone. It really does make my life easier, especially since I have little to no computer access (but often near WiFi), it allows me to ”take care of business” from afar. Could I live without my smartphone, obviously. Do I want to even think of such a torturous life? Nope ;) How about you?

 

When Do You Know It’s Time For a Change?

I’m a creature of routine. Though you may not know it by walking into mu house on any Thursday afternoon, I thrive on organization and routine. I say Thursday because it’s the second full day of me working and when I’m working full-time, stuff from Monday evening until Friday evening starts to pile up. It’s ok though because I know between Friday and Saturday Mike and I will have everything back in place.

I like my four-day work week and hours worked. For the most part, I like the routine we have with me getting two and from work and how we manage our home time. Though nothing has changed in our lives or routines in the last few months, I have noticed I am increasingly unhappy with how certain things are and I am feeling like I, we, as a family, need a change.

As long as I’ve been at my current job I haven’t had much in terms of complaints. I still recognize that the pros outweigh the cons with my job but I’m noticing that lately I have a lot more complaints. Not only am I complaining about my job more, I find myself justifying why I need to be there. There are a lot of really great things about this position but I’ve come to the realization I don’t see myself there forever. I deal with certain things now that, longterm will wear me down. After five years here, I’m at the point that for the first time am contemplating leaving.

Maybe I’m just so tired my frustrations about my job, most of which have always been there, are just annoyance lately. I can’t decide if I’m just in a job funk or if I really so need a change.

This makes me a little sad for a lot of different reasons but things within the work environment have slowly been changing and although don’t directly affect my job, are wearing me out just being in the same atmosphere. I just don’t know if I’m ready to change my routine and if I do, by how much.

I have written about not considering an otherwise ideal job because of the hours. Just this week I was discussing with my husband about how we could make that same job work for our family when deep down in my heart I knew it would have repercussions. I’ve already written a post about the reasons why it wouldn’t work but I’m so torn up inside about my current job it actually has me creating delusions about making a job I know couldn’t work for our family a reality. I think this is my tell-tale sign that something has to change.

When you’re in a stressful situation you can start making irrational decisions or at the very least thought process. I’m so scared of making decisions full of regret but, again, can’t decide at what point change is necessary.

How do you decide when something has to permanently change or you just need a break from how things are?

Things I Won’t Do to Get Out of Debt!

There are a lot of things you can do to help yourself get out of debt sooner rather than later: create a budget, cut variable expenses, try to earn more money and many others.

I have done all of these things myself. I create a monthly budget. I’ve cut down considerably on eating out, entertainment, and frivolous spending on things that are unnecessary. I even work several jobs to increase my earning potential, but there are some things I will NOT do.

I will NOT live off of ramen noodles! Along those lines, I will absolutely not go dumpster diving for food. Yes, I have cut back considerably on my monthly grocery expenses, but I will not go so far as to harm my health just to save a few more dollars. I still eat a variety of protein sources: eggs, beans, beef, pork, chicken, etc. Obviously, I do consume the ones that cost the least more often, but I will not give up eating healthily and with a variety to speed up my goal of getting out of debt.

I will NOT live without air conditioning and/or the furnace. I do play a game with myself each year to see how long I can go before turning the furnace on, last year I made it to November 1st, but again, I will not put my health at risk. I live in the Midwest, it gets well below 0 degrees F during the winter and well above 100 degrees F in the summer. There are times where people are warned not to go outside for more than 15 minutes maximum in the summer. I do still want to be comfortable in my home in the winter and summer and that means using the furnace and air conditioner as necessary. I still try to be frugal, keeping it set rather low in the winter and higher in the summer.

I will NOT become a hermit. I still set aside some “fun money” each month to use as I please. It is not much since I’m trying to pay off debt, but it’s usually enough for a couple frugal activities with friends or family. As much as I want to get out of debt, I don’t want to neglect the relationships in my life by never leaving the house. I also think blowing off some steam by having fun helps keep me on the right track with my debt.

I will NOT resort to any money saving tactics shown on TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates. I’ve watched a few episodes of that show and the way people try to save money is absolutely revolting. I will not shower with my clothes in the tub, pee in a jar, or squeeze ketchup from restaurant packets into a bottle. The savings generated by most of these actions are very, very minimal and, in my opinion, not worth the time they take or the risks involved. Some of these actions are very risky to their quality of life and their health.

As you can see, basically I’m not willing to jeopardize my health or seriously damage the quality of my life to get out debt. I have made sacrifices and changed the way I view money and the sacrifices I’ve made are enough to help me get out of debt. Saving tiny amounts of money using the ways I listed are not worth it in my opinion. Ending up in the hospital because I tried risky ways to save money will only end up increasing my debt when I have to pay medical bills.

What are you NOT willing to do to get out of debt?

Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at Shoeaholicnomore.

Growing Up in an Entitled Generation

1908358_10152215366357339_2045759575475029433_nMy husband has a very deluded perspective of reality but it’s really not his fault at all. He grew up in a well-educated family (and no, I don’t just mean post secondary education, life experience means just as much, if not more), a family of military roots with standards and expectations, a good balance of demanding respect but open to change and adaptation. From his family home, my husband went on to further educate himself where he is now in a profession that really, only deals with educated people. He comes home and is again, surrounded by educated family and friends. Other than the very small glimpse of ”reality” he gets at places like the grocery store, he has little to no interaction with the public.

With all this in mind, when we do go out and have mass interactions with the public he is always blown away. Maybe I’m used to it, but very few things actually surprise me anymore. The one thing that actually does continue to blow my mind is how entitled my generation is.

I don’t know what surprises me more. The fact that so many of my cohorts are so entitled or that society continues to feed this plague, ignoring the massive problems that it is, and will continue to cause. I’ve grown up in a society where everything has been given to me yet I’m convinced that I deserve to have the things I do for all of my hard work.

Growing up, it was difficult to fail in school, if not impossible given that teachers are actually encouraged to keep moving kids along to keep status quo, always figuring out ways to pass a child if they were struggling. Kids were given extra assignments or tests to help their grades. There was always room to bend the rules per se. Expectations were outlined in September only to be accommodated to the student in question come June. Thinking about my mom’s generation where teachers were actually able to discipline within their classroom and had expectations and standards. There were very few excuses that would actually be acceptable for missing school or homework and high expectations for improving.

The classroom is the first place entitlement started with my generation. Kids were entitled to move on to the second grade and there were few repercussions for doing poorly. Academic probation or dismissal certainly doesn’t exist at this level as it does in university. Can you imagine if we were able to place the same post secondary standards within our primary education system? Can you imagine the type of child we would be molding? Yeah, I live in a dream world.

My friends are always justifying purchases with how hard they’ve worked and how they deserve it. Though I have been guilty of using these terms loosely myself, I’m the first to admit that very few things can I say I’ve actually worked extra hard or truly deserve said purchase.

I was so disheartened by how much debt I had incurred during the process of getting my post secondary education that, thankfully, it was a massive reality check for me and the lifestyle I would be able to live. Since graduation I haven’t deserved anything given that I haven’t yet fully paid for the education that got me to this point. You are not entitled to any sort of lifestyle until you’ve paid for the education that got you there, it’s that simple.

If you’re living any sort of life on social assistance, you don’t deserve anything beyond food, basic shelter and aids to help you get off social assistance such as career counselling. I’m sick of my patients (many of whom are on social assistance) coming in smelling like cigarettes (at almost $12/pack here), wearing nicer clothes than I am and telling me about their impending trip to NYC. How is this OK? Why aren’t we encouraging these people to get jobs of their own to pay for all this stuff with their money, not mine? I hear it all. They deserve a new phone because theirs is five years old. They deserve a pack of cigarettes per pay because their kids stress them out. This is NOT what social assistance is for nor do you ”deserve” any of this.

My husband is always complaining about how difficult it is to find hard workers to hire and I believe him. We’re in such an entitled society, few people are willing to prove their worth which is sad.

How do you deal with living in such an entitled society?

How Much Did You Spend on Prom?

While watching the news tonight with my husband they had a segment about prom and the associated costs. With me being (almost) 30, prom wasn’t that long ago for me but I was shocked at the numbers they provided. The average prom costs for Canadian kids was approximately $850 with parents covering an average of 81% of these costs. American kids spent more with an average of almost $1,100 in 2014. Wow.

According to the article this included everything from formal wear, flowers, meals, tickets to event(s), rentals etc. Even with all this in consideration I was still blown away. When I graduated I don’t think I spent a quarter of that, even at over 10 years ago that’s a huge increase. Here are a few ways you (or your kids!) can save money on prom costs:

Borrow

I borrowed my prom dress from a friend who had graduated two years prior and it worked out perfectly. Her uncle was a seamstress and custom-made her dress which I only had to mildly alter. Because it was custom, it was a sure way to make sure no one else had my dress (not that I would have cared). If you know someone who you could borrow a dress or tux from, this would be the cheapest option.

Buy Used

The dress is usually worn once, it sort of goes without saying that checking out online classifieds might be a good idea.

Use something other than a limo

We opted to rent a large SUV at a fraction of the cost. We had a ton of fun decorating the entire thing with window paints, streamers and crazy decorations. Also, what happened to borrowing mom and dads car??

Look for deals

I found an online Groupon type coupon to have m hair and makeup done. My only tip for this would be if you’re using a service like this for an important day, check out reviews! The place I used was terrible and I ended up redoing my own makeup. Larger department stores also often offer these types of services for free or very cheap.

Volunteer

My husband and I (yes, we’re high school sweethearts) volunteered on the safe grad committee so we would get free tickets to prom and safe grad (the after party). If I remember correctly they ran $50 each. Not bad for a few hours worth of volunteering!

Prom is a fun time but spending upwards of thousands of dollars is just crazy. Just 10 years ago an expensive dress was $250, now kids are spending $500+ on a prom dress. Parents, it’s important to hold your kids to task. If they want a crazy expensive day make sure they contribute to the cost, you should be responsible for 81% of the cost, especially in these dollars!

How did you, or do you plan to save on prom or you or your kids?

Debt is a Real Issue!

As per my post last week about why students have so much debt (and how to avoid it), one common thing kept coming up, people (myself included) didn’t take their debt seriously, almost as if it doesn’t exist. 

I always knew I’d have to pay my debt back but was very nonchalant about the whole ordeal. I’d tell myself ”it wasn’t a big deal”, that ”everyone has debt” or that I’d just deal when the time came. I really didn’t care that much which is a terrible mentality but I honestly don’t think it was totally my fault.

Most people (think outside of the PF community) have a very misguided understanding of debt. They simply don’t understand it, I certainly didn’t until I went out of my way to educate myself but honestly, most people don’t have that initiative which is what is compounding this huge issue.

Students graduate from their post secondary studies and aren’t held accountable to repay their debt. I received a letter in the mail with my monthly pre-authorized payment which would have me pay off my debt in almost 10 years. There was never any information about the implications of interest rates, how or why I could and should pay it off earlier than 10 years, or how it will really affect my life while I have an outstanding balance.

Instead, I received many phone calls and letters about what to do if I couldn’t afford my monthly payment, interest relief programs and explanations on ways to extend my payment beyond the 10 year period. Not once did I ever ask for this information. It was as if they wanted me to be in debt forever. The letters are worded in such a way it’s almost as if everyone needs these programs and to please call to get assistance setting up. I mean they’re making loads of money off your interest so it is kind of in their best interest to keep you in debt now isn’t it?

My husband’s cousin recently told me she was thinking about apply for student loans (or lines of credit) upon entering her second year of university. Her friends had informed her that it was cheap money and she should apply for the money even if she didn’t need it (which she likely won’t given that she has a great paying summer job and some savings). As you can imagine I did my best to explain why she really shouldn’t do it. I’m hoping she takes my advice and thanks me on her graduation day! Her friends did such a great job at glamorizing loans she didn’t think twice about it but did think to ask me about it so for that I’m glad.

Debt, especially student debt is such a huge issue. It’s so real and tangible. I could go on forever about the need for financial literacy but I won’t preach to the choir. Last week I mentioned to a teacher patient of mine that I wish financial literacy was taught in schools, his response? ”We need to focus on straightening out the core subjects before investing in less essential subjects”. I feel like we have a long way to go so for now, I will do my best to let people know our story and for them to see how real the issue of debt is, how it affects every aspect of your life as long as you’re in it. Debt is a real issue and we can’t forget that!